The PM-COAS ‘secret conversation’ that remains no more a secret

Kathmandu : The unbelievable and the unimaginable have happened in Nepal .

Political matters or for that matter, events related to national security or even concerns over how to steer the nation in the turbulent days ahead being discussed ""strictly private" in between the Prime Minister, G.P. Koirala, and the Chief of the Army Staff, Pyar Jung Thapa, have come to the open.

Some one who remains yet "unidentified" very cleverly "recorded" the conversation that took place in between the country's Chief of the executive and the COAS.

Among those attending the said conversation on May 13, 2006, besides the Prime Minister were namely, DPM K.P.Woli, Home Minister Krishna Sitaula, Finance Minister Dr. Ram Saran Mahat and above all the second man now being tipped as the next COAS, Mr. Rukmangad Katuwal.

After all, in a democracy nothing remains a mystery and one sharp brain among the Nepali media made it open recently.

We too have tried to make an unofficial translation of the same recorded version of the said secret conversation (that remains no more a secret now) printed by one reputed Weekly- The SANGHU in its May 29 th issue this Monday.

Without making any comments further here is the unofficial translation of the said event:

PM Koirala: Tell me what should I do now?

COAS Thapa: The manner the High Level Investigation Committee made recommendations and subsequently the manner in which the three Captains of Security agencies were suspended by the cabinet has definitely demoralized the entire security agencies. Nowhere in the world the government behaves with its own security forces in this fashion.

PM Koirala: No! No! It's not that.

DPM Woli: Even if the Committee have had made recommendation for the suspension of the COAS itself but we did not do that. In fact, the government has not even thought any thing otherwise of the Military forces. At best, you have some sort of misunderstanding over the things.

Katuwal: Mr. DPM, I object to your interpretations. Well, in theory we too do agree with what you have said. But in practice it is just the otherwise.

PM Koirala: No! No! That is not the matter. You all should extend support to the government which has been formed through the strength of the movement. This is my sincere request to you all.

Dr. Mahat: Yes! The government has just been formed. I do admit that while discharging our duties we might have done some thing wrong. But I assure you that we do not harbor any ill intentions towards the Army.

DPM Woli: Well, tell us how we could cooperate with each other at times when certain difficulties come up in the way of the government. We in reality are in a mood to extend our support to the Army.

COAS Thapa: I understand that you are all political figures and thus you prefer to see the security agencies through political eyes. But security agencies toe a different line other than THE POLITICAL ONE. We have a different way. Our main responsibility is to protect the interest of the people, maintenance of stability and peace, the protection of public properties, and above all safeguarding the national boundaries and the sovereignty of the nation. We disagree with the policy that the government has acquired vis-à-vis the security agencies given the government has just summarily scrapped all the charges from those who had been till the other day fighting with the State. Well it is a very sensitive time and one should not forget the fact that the Maoists have yet to disarm themselves. The situation thus demands that the security agencies should be taken into confidence by the cabinet. But since it is not so, the situation could be unproductive. Please think over these seriously.

Sitaula: No! No! Don't nurture such thoughts. The situation is such that the Maoists were too willing to come to the mainstream politics. And our entire efforts are directed towards that end. This demands support from all of the security agencies.

COAS Thapa: Yes! I do agree that we are neutral to politics. This, however, does not mean that we don't understand politics. But then the manner we the non-political institution are being dragged to politics has put us all in a very tight spot. Let me, as the Commander of the entire Unified Command, say that we are even today committed to our targeted goals and will remain united even tomorrow. The Royal Nepal Army is one of the oldest institution of the country. The efforts aimed at looking into the chain of command is in itself incorrect.

Katuwal: Security agencies function as per the principles of the Chain of Command. The chain of command is intact and will remain intact. Some might have illusion that they could break the chain of command. If they think so then they are mistaken who have yet to understand the character of the army.

PM Koirala: I understood the sentiments of the COAS. Now onwards such events will not happen in the future. I assure you. Such incidents crop up at times of transition. But we must settle down those matters and for that we necessarily need your cooperation and support.

COAS Thapa: The people supported the movement on one single condition and that was fore restoration of peace. However, I see a trend is being developed wherein there lay the danger of the disintegration of the state itself. Such talks must be brought to an end. Let the constituent assembly frame the new constitution first. What the people want will be decided upon by the assembly elections. The people and the people only have this mandate. The people's movement has just mandated you all for the restoration of peace. Things should move as per that mandate.

DPM Woli: We have been analyzing the situation in a sensible manner. We appreciate your feelings and concurrently we have to fulfill the ever-increasing people's wishes. At the moment, the country stands close to a division. That's why we in the political parties too have the responsibility in saving the country from being dubbed as a failed state; in controlling the chaos and also for the safeguarding of the indivisibility of the nation.

COAS Thapa: I have put my feelings at your perusal. Now you too have to keep your words given to us.

I thank you Mr. Prime Minister for having allowed us some time for this meeting.

End text:

Revealingly according to the Weekly, the COAS sent a message to the PM' house through the Police agency. The time was allotted for 10 AM in the morning. Koirala received this message at about 8 AM . Koirala then is supposed to have consulted his nephew Shekhar Koirala who later ordered all the ministers mentioned in the talks to be at the PM's residence within half an hour.

The COAS and his colleague though had wished to talk with the PM in private but the ministers did not leave the room and hence the discussion took place in a crowded manner.

The weekly says that the second man of the Army Mr. Katuwal initiated the topic for discussion.

" Well, our full support to you Mr. Prime Minister will be always there but try to control the acts that are aimed at irritating the security agencies", is what Katuwal presumably said. The secret (was it a secret talks any way?) discussion presumably lasted for about 43 minutes.

PM Koirala exhibited his modesty all the time during the talks writes the weekly.

Telegraph adds: This translation has been made not with any mal-intention. We possess high regards for the political personalities and the nation's army as well. However, what is disturbing is how such a high level secret discussion came to the public? Which place in Nepal is safe for such a strictly private discussion then? The question is there.

(Thanks the Sanghu Weekly-ed).


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